6 Questions to Talk About Before Getting Married
Some people say "the first year of marriage is the hardest", but it doesn't have to be! Marriage is an adjustment, but preparing for your marriage (not just the wedding) can help you start your life together on the right foot.
Couples who get premarital counseling are about 50% more likely to have a successful marriage than couples who don't. This is because in counseling, couples get to dive deeper into their values and conflict resolution styles, and they are able to discuss important topics before committing to marriage.
Conversations and differing opinions about money, sex, and children are inevitable, so it's best to talk about them sooner than later.
Need a good place to start?
6 important questions couples should talk about before getting married:
1. How will we divide the household duties and what will our roles be?
It may be helpful to discuss the way your parents divided roles and responsibilities. Roles and household duties can be a source of conflict for couples when expectations of husbands and wives are different. Talk about your expectations. Talk about your life plans and how that might affect your roles and duties over the years.
2. How did your family resolve conflict and how do you want to resolve conflict in our marriage?
Our communication and conflict management styles are often deeply influenced by the families we grew up in. Most likely, the way your family handled conflict is widely different from the way your partner's family did. Some families push things under the rug and try to keep the peace, some families passionately argue until they come to an agreement or solution.
Talking about the way your families deal with conflict can open up a dialogue about what you want to do the same or differently. Discussing what you like and don't like about how your families handle conflict gives you the opportunity to set up an effective conflict management plan that works for your relationship.
3. How will we manage our money? Will we share a bank account?
It's also important to talk about your financial backgrounds. Do they have debt? Do you have debt? Talk about how much transparency and communication you want to have when managing finances. Will you make all spending decisions together? Will you each have separate allowances to spend on whatever you want? Talk about paying bills and budgeting. Talk about what you value spending money on, or how you value saving or investing.
You may have very different ideas of where your money should and shouldn't go.
4. What rules do you want to establish for our marriage?
What boundaries will you set for your relationship? Talk about when you might need some space. You might also want to set rules like "we will never threaten divorce", or "we will never share our conflicts with friends or family members without explicit permission", or "no matter how upset we are with each other, we will still sleep in the same bed".
This is a great opportunity to talk about general expectations for your marriage and come up with some rules or compromises to help you uphold each other's boundaries and meet each other's needs.
5. Do you want to have children? If so, how will we raise them?
It's important to consider whether or not kids are a deal breaker for you. Most often, wanting or not wanting kids does not change. It can, but you should never get married expecting your partner to change their mind. If you want kids, and your partner voices that they never want kids, decide before marriage if you are willing to make that compromise. If you get married in hopes that one day they'll think differently, you are setting yourself up for resentment and gridlock.
Talk about how you were raised. What did you appreciate about your parents' parenting styles? What would you do differently? Most likely, you and your partner will have differing views and values when it comes to parenting. Find common ground and come up with compromises in areas where your opinions are different.
6. How often do you want to have sex? Do you have any concerns about intimacy in marriage?
Often, couples have different expectations about what a sexual relationship should be like. You may want sex multiple times a week, and your partner might only be planning on having sex a few times a month. Neither expectation is wrong; however, it's important to come to an agreement of what will work for your relationship. You can always reevaluate. Talking about your expectations for sex and can be vulnerable, but it's crucial to achieving a healthy sexual relationship in your marriage.